ENERGY: Solar Energy – The Bright Future of India
This is one field in which India has not kept pace with the rapidity of growth in many other Sections. And this has meant regular power shortages both in the homes and in industries. Inadequate planning is partly to blame, but blind pursuit of western ways is the other culprit. Clearly, even under the best circumstances, the current methods leave much to be desired. For example, some of the power sources are non-renewable (coal, oil, natural gas). Others depend on massive structures that deliver rather limited energy output relative to their sizes (hydroelectric projects). Some others are either not dependable sources for constant supply of energy (hydrothermal, wave and windmill) or generate waste products that are highly toxic and difficult to store (nuclear). With the latter source of energy, unless and until a means for complete degradation/detoxification is found, I have grave reservations about widespread use of this source of energy.
Of all the sources of energy generation, the much-touted splitting of water to form hydrogen is the one I dread most; this is a one-way process and one fraught with the potential for rapid ecological catastrophe! Imagine all the power-hungry nations depleting the oceans and other life-giving sources of water in the world! If the source of hydrogen is a hydrocarbon such as methane, I do not mind it, but certainly this is not a limitless source!
Only two sources of energy qualify for excellence both in terms of inexhaustible supply and their clean nature. These are the solar and nuclear fusion sources. It is highly unlikely that the latter will become a viable source of energy as long as it requires more energy to generate per unit. It is an entirely different matter with the former. It is clean, inexhaustible and constant. Even during the night its energy can be captured in some parts of the earth and transported or gathered from the outer space and transported unchanged or converted into another form of energy and beamed down.
While the most important use for solar energy will be by converting it into electricity, it can be utilized for lighting interiors of buildings through fiberoptic channels or used for heating and cooking by magnification and focusing. The main obstacle keeping this source of energy from becoming universal are that economical ways of generating power from the sun has not been discovered yet. But also the powerful lobbying by the oil, coal and other non-renewable energy producers are hindrances to solar energy development. Despite the unacceptable dependence of countries on the ever diminishing supply of the non-renewable energy sources, this inhibition by special interests has kept at bay major commitment to developing solar energy as the source of power for the future.
We want India to take the lead in changing this state of affairs.Our government should invest its resources (both financial and human) to tap into the true potential of solar energy and become the world leader in this technology.Even more important may be using multiple sources of clean energy in unison…for example, each street may use power generated by a windmill, combined with solar cells on roofs and parts of walls (and of course, use of sun’s energy in other ways as well) to completely meet the demand. This will free the country of dependence on expensive and unreliable foreign oil.
Some extension of such applications may be solar panels on every car to supply power for running the radio, CD player etc or in trapping the infrared radiations for heating purposes.How about finding ways of truly storing light or converting it into some form of chemical energy (analogous to what plants do)? When the true potential of solar energy generation is met, we will all be breathing clean air and perhaps reversing the global trend of increased asthma and chronic bronchitis.Not to mention, an entirely new industry catering to this new form of energy, which means generating enormous wealth for the nation.